Hever Residents Association was asked to meet with DPL to understand the forthcoming changes to parking.
The commercial background
The driveway to the station is a private road and the parking bays in front of the DPL’s station building are reserved for employees and visitors to that business. The old goods yard to the right (north side) is for use by train travellers and is owned privately by two directors of DPL. They negotiated with Southern and Network Rail ‘for many years’ to pay a lease so that parking would be free to users (residents) and indeed Southern were paying up to the end of 2016. However Southern refused to renew in January 2017.
We understand that Southern’s contractual position is that they do not earn any income from train ticket sales. They are paid to run a service to a timetable irrespective of the number of passengers and so have no commercial necessity to support car parking. Despite several efforts by the DPL directors, Southern have refused to discuss the matter any further.
The directors are local residents who intend to maintain the parking facility for us all but need to charge a viable fee now that Southern have withdrawn. The management of the day to day parking operation will be contracted to a specialist parking company. Cheaper, informal schemes were discussed at length but were not seen to be viable for a number of reasons.
The directors have devised a parking charge level which is lower than the charges at other station car parks in the area, and which they hope commuters will find affordable. The overall revenue has to be shared with the operating company. They are committed to maintaining the facility and declare they are not intending to ‘hike’ the charges once people get used to parking there. See details below on how the charging mechanism will work.
Both DPL and HRA are worried that some train passengers will park their vehicles on the public lanes near the station which, being single track, are unsuitable for this purpose. Horses, farm vehicles, vehicles with trailers, HGVs and emergency vehicles need to use these lanes and should not be obstructed. We will be taking advice from the local police on what steps can be taken to discourage any anti-social parking.
Rail users are being leafleted now with the notice below from the owners. Local residents, where we have their details, are being emailed to advise them that the charging system will be operational from 2nd January 2018.
How the Charging will work
This relies on a vehicle number plate recognition system which will be installed during December. Vehicles entering the private road will be logged in and out. There will be a 30 minute period of grace (no charge made) for any driver dropping off or collecting passengers from the station. After this a charge of £2.50/day will be levied but with discounted charges for regular users. There will be a number of ways of paying e.g. by using the parking operator’s mobile phone app, or by phone and credit card within 24 hours, much like the Dartford Crossing system. All parking issues (payments, levels of service, fines etc.) will be handled by the operator and not DPL.